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Code 3 for an intoxicated subject on a bus.

So there’s a drunk on the bus. What else is fucking new. There are only 3 call types involving buses – drunk, seizure, fall, and sometimes 2 or all 3 of them are present on the same call.

He obviously didn’t suddenly get drunk, and he boarded stumbled onto the bus some time ago, but for some reason the driver decided that now was a good time to stop the bus and call 911, instead of finishing the route first. It’s not like there’s a bus full of people who actually have things to do.

“Can’t you guys just take him off the bus?” Some random impatient woman asks.

“Why thank you for your input, random civilian who’s not getting her hands dirty. First, we’ve only been on the bus for 12 seconds. Then, as a responsible EMS provider, I have to actually examine him, seeing how I wasn’t on this bus observing him until 16 seconds ago, and therefore have no idea what’s wrong with him, even though it seems pretty obvious to anyone with one eye. Besides, it’s raining outside, so I’m really in no hurry to get him or us wet. And finally, the smart play is for my partner right here to actually go and get the gurney and set it up right outside the bus doors so I’m not physically holding this drunk guy up on the sidewalk in the rain once I get him off the bus. You see, drunk people aren’t terribly good at standing up or walking, and my back has been beaten up enough. And I certainly don’t want him to fall, because that means I would have to pick him up while you record it with your phone. You’d probably even be the first one to complain to my boss about him falling AND send the video to the press. I have no desire for any media attention or extra paperwork. So thank you, again, kind random civilian who’s not getting her hands dirty, for your astute suggestion.”

She wants the lesser disposition

Code 3 for “nervous breakdown” on a bus. You read that right – this was actually how it was dispatched. Apparently you can call 911 for anything. It was a very careful drive to the call, if you get my drift.

Nothing legitimate ever happens on a bus.

It’s near the university.

Everyone is off the bus, like 30 of them. No one looks pleased. The cops look at us and point to the door. They shrug. The bus driver looks at me and I look at him. He looks annoyed.

“She get on at the train station?”

“Yeah. She was fine. Then all of a sudden she starts crying and being hysterical.”

We get on.

A well-dressed woman in her 50s is sitting in the first row. She is crying. There is clearly no emergency here. As per usual.

“It’s my first day teaching here,” referring to the university.

“So why are you crying?”

“I don’t know. I have anxiety.”

“Well, how can we help you calm down so you can be on your way and get to your appointment? I assume you don’t want to miss the first day at your new job.*”

I barely finish this sentence before she starts wailing again.

“Stop talking! I can’t think! I don’t know what to do!”**

I can’t even hear myself now.

“Ma’am, all we’re interested in is how to help you get on with your day…”***

<More wailing and blubbering>

Fucking never mind.****

“Get up. Sit on the gurney.”

*Unless she wants to spend it at the ED where she’ll sit there while the entire staff wonders why she’s there taking up valuable bed space, pretty much the most inappropriate place for this particular call. After all, I have done my fair share of patient coaching to help folks avoid the ED.
**This seems to be consistently ironic on these calls – patients complaining about the extra stimuli but always being the ones who chose to involve other people in the first place. The words “attention” and “seeking” often come to mind.
***Seriously. Patient advocacy. If she’s even interested, that is. That, and helping the dozens of people get on with their day that she interrupted.
****Obviously not interested.

Disabled person dissed

Code 2 for a lift assist. On a bus.

Having ridden a lot of buses in many different countries, traveling by bus around here has got to be the most inefficient way to get around, if you consider only just how many people have some kind of issue on buses. For instance, it seems like every hour there’s somebody having a seizure on the bus. Or a drunk guy who falls down. Or someone assaults the driver. The bus goes out of service and you have to get off and wait for another bus.

Anyway, I digress.

A very obese woman in a wide electric wheelchair is stuck trying to drive off the wheelchair ramp to get off the bus because a wheel is caught against a lip on the floor.

She is crying.

Apparently, that is because the other passengers talked a bunch of shit to her because they were inconvenienced.


Driving is dangerous because of other drivers

I’m in an unmarked agency car, coasting towards a red light not far away because, well, it’s red. It means stop, or so I thought.

Some woman in a giant SUV drives right up to what seems like the back of my neck, whips around me into the lane to my right. Asshole.

What is it with people who speed up to red lights and stop signs only to stomp on their brake pedals? How stupid can people really be?

Well, like most SUV drivers, her vehicle is far too large for her to handle. As she slows heavily for the red light and the stopped traffic, her passenger-side mirror takes out the driver-side mirror of a stationary bus with a loud “crack,” one more lane to the right.

I am annoyed. In fact, annoyed enough that I stop my car beyond hers after she pulls over, get out, and walk 200 feet back to the bus. I hand the driver my number and offer to speak to his supervisors if this woman denies she was at fault.

The woman eventually walks over to the bus and is actually contrite, but that does not change the fact that she is driving a vehicle too large and wide for her skill level and the clear lack of patience in her temperament. These are the people who cause accidents. Well, I mean, she just did.


Code 3 for someone who fell out of his wheelchair. At Walgreens. And, of course, at 3am.

The guy’s sitting on the ground next to his wheelchair.

“What’s your name?”




“Alright, what happened, Spider?”

“I want go to get down to First St. When’s the bus coming?”

“I don’t think the bus is running. It’s the middle of the night.”

“Well, how am I going to get there?”

“You can wheel yourself there. It’s only 10 blocks down. You didn’t fall out of your wheelchair, did you?”

He gets up on his own and gets into his wheelchair. None of us need to help him up. Thanks, (another) drive-by cell phone warrior. I’m going to have to start crushing cell phones on sight. Fucking people call 911 more than they call their mothers.

“Can you guys drive me down there?”

“No, we’re not the bus.”

“Why not?”

I turn his wheelchair in the right direction and point him down the street.

“It’s that way.”

He wheels himself off without much apparent difficulty.

He’s got stuff to do

Code 3 for a fall. On a bus. Fucking bus. I hate bus calls.

PD is already there. Fire arrives and I tell them we got it.

An old Chinese man was on the bus and fell when the bus braked suddenly. He has a lump on his head. He speaks maybe 5 words of English, and thankfully “yes,” “no” and “hospital” were among those words. He absolutely does not want to go to the hospital.

Well, the bus is out of service now, of course, and a very nice transit supervisor shows up. He tries to tell the old man that he’ll let him on the next bus for free so he can get to wherever he’s going. (I don’t want to make any assumptions, but this old Chinese man is going to Chinatown, 12 blocks down.) But since none of these words are among the 5 words that he understands, he absolutely does not want to get off the bus, probably because he thinks we’re kicking him off the bus for daring to fall down, since – believe it or not – some people still have a concept of shame.

This is kind of funny because most people in this town – young or old, able-bodied or not – would want to go the hospital for a stupid fall like this to try to get some cash from the transit agency, any plans for the day be damned, and it’s pretty easy for us when they simply get on our gurney. Whereas this old man, being tough and just wanting to get on with the rest of his day, simply would not get off the bus, even though the transit supervisor is going to get him on the next bus for free.

Finally, after about 15 minutes of all of us wildly gesticulating in vain at the old man, the transit supervisor finally says to the driver, “Just drive him down there, and then go back to the depot.”

Backboards are comfy

Code 3 for a vehicle accident. PD requests 3 ambulances.

It appears that Car #1 struck a parked Car #2. Not a huge wreck. The driver of Car #1 gets packaged and sent to the ED. There are 2 women in Car #2, and we work on getting them immobilized to backboards. A man standing on the sidewalk nearby approaches us and tells them that he was in Car #2 too and now has neck pain. So, we start packaging him as well.

It’s difficult to keep track of everyone on wrecks, especially if it’s on a ghetto street with literally a hundred people standing around watching. It seems like there are cops everywhere. It seems like there are firefighters everywhere. It seems like there are paramedics and EMTs everywhere. At some point – and I don’t know why or how – the driver of Car #2 either hears or sees something, and she speaks up.

“I don’t know who that man is.”

She is pointing at the man who said he was in her car.

“Really? Are you sure?”

“I am sure! He was not in my car! I don’t even know him! It’s just me and my friend in the car.”

“That’s weird. He says he was in your car.”

“No! I don’t know him! This is making me crazy, you guys saying that man was in my car!”

This is strange. Usually people hop on buses after they wreck, hoping to get some cash from the transit agency. But a private car? Besides, backboards are not uncomfortable at all.

So we interrogate this guy, and he finally admits that he wasn’t in the car. We unstrap him.

“Get up! Get the fuck out of here! What’s wrong with you?”